Tagged: Howie Kendrick

Just A Touch of Heart Burn

That’s because I’m eating my words.  I know, I know.  I said I wanted a close race all the way into September.  Would you believe me if I said I was talking about the AL East?  How ’bout the NL West?  (Mannywood? Mannywoops!)  I’m the first to admit the last few games have been painful.

                   thrill.jpg picture by lafmyers

 

But on the bright side, it could be worse…

 

 sox-casket.jpg picture by lafmyers

I think what makes it so tough to watch the Angels struggling lately is the fact that they were playing so darned good!  They weren’t playing well and getting lucky.  They were playing like a true championship team.  I may be behind with my posting but I haven’t missed a single moment of Angels baseball.  Let’s do a quick little re-cap:

Saturday vs. Blue Jays (W 7-3)  Ervin Santana had a good 6 innings, Angels’ relievers were strong.  Offense combined for 11 hits with Erick Aybar going 3 for 4.  Vladdy and Juan Rivera each had a home run.  All in all, the Angels seemed to bounce back nicely after losing 2 in a row.

Sunday vs. Blue Jays (L 3-8)  Trevor Bell had his bell rung, giving up 6 runs in just 1 and 2/3.  The Angels managed to score 3 in later innings but on 12 hits, that was it.  The walks (6) didn’t help.  This was the 10th and final game of their road trip and it seemed as if they were victims of delayed jet lag. 

Monday vs. Tigers (L 7-10)   Oh, this one hurt.  By the time the Angels were able to score their first run in the 6th inning, they were already down by 10.  At this point, I was just happy it wouldn’t be a shut-out.  But then things started happening.  They scored 4 in the 6th and had scored 3 in the 8th with 2 runners on and 2 outs.  But then in came Fernando Rodney for a 4 out save and the party was over.  Bobby Abreu’s 3 run shot in the 8th turned out just to be for show. 

Tuesday vs. Tigers (L 3-5)   John Lackey again was going for career win #100.  And again, it was not to be.  The Angels looked as if they were going to pick up from where they left off the night before as Howie Kendrick skyed a 3 run shot to right field but former Angel Jarrod Washburn (a new Tiger) decided that was enough.  He and Tigers’ relievers held the Angels to 9 hits and no additional runs while all of the Tigers’ 5 earned runs were courtesy of Big John.

If this keeps up, the Rally Monkey’s gonna need some Prozac.

 

Fear not, Angels fans!  Drastic times call for drastic measures.  Yours truly, Lucky Lori, is headed to the Big A!  I will be there in person to whip my boys into shape and turn things around.  Now, I know I have not been out this season to see my Angels in person as much as I usually do, but the timing couldn’t be better.  With the Angels lead over the Rangers dropping to 4 games, we need a win on Wednesday.  The Rangers beat the Yankees 10-5 Tuesday night.  Come on!  WE do that…not stinkin’ Texas!  So yes, I’m fired up.  In fact, I’m not even worried about jinxing anything when I tell you the Angels have won every game I’ve been to this season.  And not only am I going to the game…it’s a day game!  That’s right, guess whose hubby gave her the day off?  It was pretty easy, actually.  I’ve been been walking around in a zombie-like state, clutching my Rally Monkey and mumbling, “Let’s get Figgy with it,” and singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” totally off key.  He’s calling it a “mental health” day and he’s absolutely right.  Whatever it is, I’m expecting…no, demanding…a win and when it happens, I’ll come home in such a good mood he’ll probably score a little monkey lovin’.  I know, TMI. 

                        

On a serious note, Monday, August 24, would have been Nick Adenhart’s 23rd birthday.  My thoughts and prayers were with his family and friends on what I know was an unbearably difficult day.  July 30th was my dad’s birthday, the first one since his passing in March.  I know it’s supposed to get easier but I’m not experiencing that yet and don’t expect to for quite some time.  I miss him so much every day and continue to try to make the most of this baseball season without him.  I know he’ll be smiling on Wednesday when he sees two of his daughters and two of his grandkids having a great day out at the Big A.  With Dad as an Angel in the outfield, how can they lose?

 

Baseball…bringing families together. 

 

 

Tough Love

I guess some people just can’t take a compliment.  I wouldn’t exactly say I was “gushing” in my last post, but I couldn’t help but point out how well my Angels had been playing…”had” being the operative word.  I mentioned their awesome defense, fantastic .300+ batting averages, how cute Figgy, Izturis and Aybar are as they speed around the bases.  Maybe I went too far. 

                              

They dropped their last game in Cleveland and their first game, Friday night, in Toronto.  I continue to be baffled by the fact that the Angels can take on a team like the Yankees and inflict grievous injury but then come thisclose to getting shut-out by the Jays.  A couple of doubles in the 7th inning finally put them on the board but then they had to go and score 3 in the 9th, getting me all hopeful and excited.  Mike Napoli’s 3 run homer couldn’t possibly go to waste, could it?  With 2 outs, Howie Kendrick hit a solid double to the wall in left.  The tying run was on and Bobby Abreu, given the night off, comes in to pinch hit.  With 81 RBIs, he’d have been my choice too.  He grounded to first and that was it.  Close but no…

                        

There’s no point in giving Sean O’Sullivan and his 1 inning outing a hard time.  He left some pitches hovering over the plate and the Jays made the most of it.  We’re expecting an awful lot of these rookies.  Some nights they deliver, some nights they don’t.  Mike Scioscia wisely brought Matt Palmer in when O’Sullivan couldn’t get an out in the 2nd.  Palmer gave up the only other run (a Vernon Wells solo HR) and just one additional hit.  Jose Arredondo followed with 3 solid innings…1 hit and 5 K’s.  His performance was very reminiscent of the dependable relief he provided in ’08. 

   

At least the damage was minimized by the Rangers’ Friday night loss to the Rays.  I don’t doubt the Angels will do all they need to secure their western division win, but I certainly won’t mind if the Rangers contribute to the cause. 

                       

Saturday’s game starts at 10:00 AM here on the west coast.  To me, especially on the weekend, that’s the crack of dawn.  I may as well pull an all-nighter to be up and awake for it.  I’ll do whatever I have to.  After losing two in a row, my Angels need me cheering them on.  I may have to be a little bit stingy with my praise in the future.  It seems to have the opposite effect on them.  Sure…like I could ever stop singing the praises of my amazing Angels. 

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Baseball…something to smile about.

 

 

Taming the Tribe

From Baltimore to Cleveland, the Angels are showing no sign of slowing down.  Tuesday night was the first game of three with the Indians and as I had hoped, rookie Trevor Bell got his first win.  Bell went 5 and 1/3 and although he gave up 9 hits, not a one made it over the wall and he was backed up by some great Angels defense.  The double-plays have been spectacular.  Sheer poetry in motion.

ballet.jpg picture by lafmyers

Of course, the Angels offense hasn’t been too shabby.  Every Angel in the lineup was an owner of a .300 batting average or better.  And what continues to impress me is the patience every player is showing at the plate.  Erick Aybar went 2 for 4 but he drew 2 walks.  Chone Figgins went 1 for 3 and he also drew 2 walks.  Who cares how they get to first base as long as they get there.  Just ask former Angel David Eckstein who, during his tenure with the Angels, developed quite the reputation for taking one for the team.  And the Angels must be at the top of the stats for getting to first on a bunt.  Aybar, Figgins and Izturis could always keep busy in the off-season by running relay races.  These guys are just plain fast.

                        

Any team would be lucky to have 1/3 of that kind of speed on the bases.  To top it off, they are excellent fielders and they can hit.  We’ll just call them our triple-triple threat.  And they’re just so darned cute!  They always look like they’re having the time of their lives.  Why not?  They are.  I can only imagine it’s like someone paying me a couple million to scrapbook for 8 months a year.  Shheessh.  If only.  You can bet your sweet bippie (although I have no idea what a bippie is) I’d be smiling the entire time, even if placed on the DL with a paper cut. 

                         

Wednesday night’s game had to have left the Indians shaking their heads.  Jeremy Sowers made the start for Cleveland and gave up only 4 hits to the Angels in 6 and 2/3 innings.  Indians relievers Chris Perez and Jess Todd threw shut-out baseball.  How could manager Eric Wedge ask for more?  Well, he’d probably ask for the win but, amazingly, that wasn’t to be.  Let’s just say Jered Weaver’s haircut was on fire.

      

Weaver threw his second career shut-out.  After the game, he was quick to give credit to catcher Mike Napoli and the rest of his teammates.  And it was a team effort with the Angels defense making incredible plays.  The only Angels runs came in the 5th inning when they combined a walk by Napoli, a double by Kendry Morales and a single by Howie Kendrick to score two.  Aybar beat a bunt to first, Figgy had a sac fly that moved Kendrick to 3rd and Bobby Abreu’s groundout scored the third run.  No one, and I mean no one, manufactures runs like the Angels.  They say imitation is the highest form of flattery so it doesn’t surprise me to see more and more teams attempting to play the Angels brand of baseball. 

                                 

It’s no secret Mike Scioscia has had a huge impact on the Angels as a team but it’s become more and more apparent that he has also made an impression on many other teams in the MLB.  Get ’em on, get ’em over, get ’em in.  It’s a pretty basic concept but in the wake of the whole Sammy Sosa / Mark McGuire whoopla, teams began relying on the long ball to win games.  Think of how many teams rely on their DH to clear the bags and win games?  A DH who never takes the field with a glove?  Prior to Vladimir Guerrero’s injuries, Scioscia routinely rotated players into the DH spot to more or less give them a bit of a rest for the night.  What other team in play-off contention does that?  Don’t forget, the Angels are the only team without a grandslam this season.  Who cares?  Because the Angels don’t depend on home runs to win games, for Angels fans they are icing on the cake.  Sweet, beautiful icing.

                     

And superb pitching like we saw Wednesday from Jered Weaver must be the sprinkles.  Oh, so what famous sibling do I think Weaver resembles now that he’s chopped his locks off?  London loverboy, Prince Harry.  If you’ve seen Weaver with his hat off, you know I nailed this one.

                               

Weaver’s our Prince of the Pitching Mound.  6.5 games up on Texas?  All is well in the Kingdom of Halos.

 

Baseball…the sport of kings.

 

 

Rays…A Drop of Golden Sun

My Angels completed their sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays today and it put me in such a chipper mood I thought I’d walk home from work.

 

Okay, not really.  But I was singing in the car the whole way.  Does that count?  It was a great series for many different reasons.  I’ll start with the obvious…we won all three games.  Monday night was a back and forth battle as each team took turns scoring all the way until the 7th inning when Vladimir Guerrero hit his second homer of the night. 

    

It was no ordinary homerun…it was Vlady’s 400th and as it turned out, was the game winner.  How cool is that?  Big Daddy Vlady is back!

Monday’s game may have been all about the offense, but Tuesday night’s game was a rubber match.  Ervin Santana went toe-to-toe with David Price but the Angels eventually got to Price whereas the Rays were left lifeless by Santana. 

                             

He threw a complete game giving up only 3 hits in the 6-0 shutout.  5 of the Angels’ 6 RBIs came courtesy of Jeff Mathis and Reggie Willits, hitting in the #8 and #9 spots.  Mathis came inches from having the Angels’ first grand slam of the season.  He and Willits were perfect in the clutch but truly the night belonged to Santana.  Ervin the All-Star is back!

Wednesday’s game marked the MLB debut of right-hander Trevor Bell.  The 22 year-old was impressive through 5 and 1/3.  The Angels were down 4-2 when Mike Scioscia pulled him but had Scioscia known what the Angels bats had in store for the second half of the game, I suspect he would’ve let Bell stick around. 

                              

In the bottom of the 6th, Gary Matthews, Jr. connected for a 3 run shot that literally got the ball rolling.  That was followed up with Howie Kendrick’s own 3 run homer in the bottom of the 7th, which turned out to be a 5 run inning.  Angels’ relievers allowed a combined 3 hits, 1 a solo HR to Pat Burrell given up by Jose Arredondo, who has rejoined the team after doing a little time in triple A.  With a final score of 10-5, it was just one of those games that was a blast to watch.  It had something for everyone, great pitching, great hitting, a few stolen bases and a couple of long balls thrown in for good measure.  And once again, we got to watch a rookie make it to the big time.  I always get a kick out of that.

                      kick.jpg picture by lafmyers

The Angels are traveling to Baltimore Thursday and on Friday they play the first of 20 consecutive games without a day off.  They are currently sitting 5 games ahead of the Rangers but I’d hardly call that a comfy cushion.  I’m just glad they’ve been playing well on the road as they meet up with the Orioles, Indians and Blue Jays during this next road trip.  I’m also loving the way each game is a sweet surprise as far who’s contributing the big hits.    And my Torii Hunter is expected to be ready for Saturday’s game.  I ask you, Angels fans…does it get any better???

                                                

 

Baseball…Play.  Laugh.  Grow.

 

 

It Was Just My Imagination

And yes, it totally ran away with me.  Curses, voodoo, black magic spells?  Turns out they were only in my head.  Not only did the Angels beat the White Sox Thursday, Big Daddy Vlady had a home run as did Jeff Mathis, Bobby Abreu and Erick Aybar.  With 9 runs on 11 hits, my thoughts are decidedly less dark and foreboding than they were yesterday. 

         

I don’t regret yesterday’s post nor do I think I spoke too soon.  What I do in everyday life, because I’m a professional worrier, is to imagine the worst possible outcome in a situation.  I visualize in vivid detail the entire scenario and by doing so, am able to completely avert disaster.  Don’t laugh.  My “worry method” works. 

        

It’s what keeps my planes in the air,

 

        

my cruise ships afloat,

 

      

and water pipes from bursting and flooding my house when I’m on vacation.  And obviously, it’s what keeps my Angels from being swept by the White Sox.  Since I wanted my Angels to come home on the heels of victory to face the Rangers this weekend, I couldn’t waste any time turning things around for them.  What better way than to envision the possibility that someone had put a curse on the team that could potentially keep them out of the World Series for a hundred years?  Believe me, worrying about a White Sox sweep would not have been enough.  Go big or go home.  It worked, didn’t it?

     Jeff Mathis, Howie Kendrick

Jeff Mathis came into Thursday’s game hitting .197 and batting 9th in the order when he hit his 2 run shot in the 2nd, which only proves I’m even more powerful than I thought I was.  I’ve decided, however, to give my overactive imagination the weekend off.  While it would be very nice to completely dominate the Rangers,

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I don’t know that it’s necessary to be 7.5 games up on them by the end of the weekend.  The Angels have proven, once again this season, that adversity isn’t such a bad thing.  They’ve seen more than their share and have come roaring back and played their best ball.  This is one of the reasons I don’t get more upset with bad calls.  More often than not, when a bad call is made that robs them of an out or a run, it ends up being the tide-turner that makes all the difference in a game.  Usually…must I type AJ Pierzynski’s name yet again?  Fine, but I pick the picture. 

            ajp.jpg picture by lafmyers

Pierzynski’s equally offensive manager, Ozzie Guillen, showed his sensitive side when he emerged from the dugout in the 5th inning Thursday, to complain to umpires about the delay of game as batter Howie Kendrick and pitcher John Danks stepped out of the batter’s box and off of the mound while stadium personnel rendered help to a young fan in the stands who had been hit by Kendrick’s flying bat.  I’ll bet Pierzynski and Guillen get together after games to kick dogs and take candy from babies.

                        

Ervin Santana may not have had one of his best starts, but he sure kept his cool and got himself out of big trouble in the 3rd after he loaded the bases by walking Gordon Beckham, giving up a hit to Jim Thome and nailing Paul Konerko with a pitch.  His nerves may have gotten the better of him for a moment as he walked in a run, but he rebounded by striking out Jayson Nix (looking) who earlier hit a 3 run homer off him in the 2nd and getting Chris Getz to tap one right back to him.  The White Sox were unable to score again except for Dewayne Wise’s solo shot in the 9th off of Kevin Jepsen.  Jason Bulger delivered another 2 innings of solid relief and continues to see his ERA drop. 

                 

Bobby Abreu’s home run was his 250th of his career.  Abreu’s addition to the Angels has been tremendous not only for his stats, which earned him the title of American League Player of the Month for July, but also for his shining example of plate discipline that seems to be rubbing off on his teammates.  We are seeing the Angels burn through pitches and draw walks like never before.  No doubt the Angels’ offense is benefitting by following in Abreu’s footsteps. 

     Bobby Abreu

With his HR Thursday, Abreu became only the 6th player in MLB history to combine 250 homers with 2000 hits, 1000 runs scored, 1000 RBIs and 300 stolen bases.  Those are amazing numbers and yet another reason Angels fans are finding it so easy to forget (and forgive) that he was ever a Yankee.

                                     

And speaking of Yankees…it’s time to wrap this up so I can go read some Yankees and Red Sox blogs.  In the first of their four game series, the Yankees proved to the Red Sox that they are not the same team the Sox faced in this season’s previous match-ups.  The Yankees beat the Red Sox 13-6 and almost immediately, blogs everywhere were being updated with the usual rivalry rhetoric that never fails to entertain.  I’m ready to sit back and enjoy the fireworks that make me love to be a baseball fan.

 

Baseball…for people who share a taste for excitement. 

 

 

There’s No Place Like Home

Sometimes all it takes is a good talking to.  After Thursday night’s miserable 11-1 loss to the Rays, Mike Scioscia had a locker room “discussion” with his team.  What I would’ve given to have been a fly on that wall because whatever he said, obviously worked.  I almost didn’t recognize the team that took the field Friday night, back home at the Big A. 

  extreme.jpg picture by lafmyers

Who were these super-studs and what had they done with my loveable but bumbling band of baseball boys?  These new and improved Angels were hitting, scoring runs and not making base running or any other kind of errors.  I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to see them playing like the superior team I know they are.  And I don’t think I need to tell you how happy I was to see Matt Palmer take the mound for his first start since May 30th. 

                                  

Woohoo!  But I’m not at all happy to hear that Kelvim Escobar is experiencing pain in his shoulder that will prevent him from starting.  At least it looks like he’ll be available for relief pitching and he may be just what the bullpen needs.  He definitely came in handy in the same capacity back in the ’05 season.  Skeptics who think Matt Palmer’s success has been a fluke, will get to see their theory tested.  Palmer was indeed tested Friday night, and although he gave up 4 runs on 10 hits, his teammates did their share for a change and came through with plenty of runs, upping his record to 6-0.  Sweeeeeeet. 

                         

The Angels combined for 11 runs on 18…yes, 18…hits!  Everyone pitched in but notably, Bobby Abreu went 3 for 4 and Maicer Izturis, filling in for Howie Kendrick at 2nd base, went 4 for 4!  It did not come as a real shock when it was announced immediately after the game that Kendrick was being sent down to Salt Lake City.  Howie has not been himself lately.  Not only is he in the midst of the worst hitting slump of his career, we’ve seen him make some very uncharacteristic flubs, such as miscounting outs and sloppy base running.  I hope he can work these things out and rejoin the team, ready to make a run for the play-offs.  In the meantime, in light of his fantastic hitting Friday night, Izturis should be a great boost to the team’s offense. 

                                     

So, were the Angels able to keep it together and take two in a row?  And how.  One stat that has been “sluggishly” low for the Angels has been home runs, but Saturday night there were lots of fireworks in Anaheim as Kendry Morales had his second home run in two days, Jeff Mathis had a two-run shot, his first of the season and…dum, dum, dee, dum…

                                Torii Hunter

My ALL-STAR Torii Hunter not only went 3 for 4, all 3 were HOME RUNS!!!  It was incredible and the first time he’s ever had 3 in a game.  Not only does he knock them out of the park, he climbs the wall and steals them from the other guys.   Can someone please explain to me why this man is in 5th place in All-Star Game voting???  I don’t know of any outfielder who has been talked about as much on Sunday recap shows as my Torii.  If he doesn’t start the All-Star Game in center field it will be a crime, I tell you, a crime!

                               

Another star in Saturday’s game was Joe Saunders who pocketed win #7 after allowing only 1 run to the Padres in 8 and 1/3.  If not for a dropped 3rd strike and missed catch, he would’ve had his complete game.  But he sure looked good, striking out 5 and walking 1.  And the Angels defense had his back, turning 4 double-plays. 

                      

It’s been a great weekend thus far, just watching the Angels play the kind of ball we all know they’re capable of playing.  Coach Scioscia’s “lecture” should be on every players’ ipod so it’s handy should someone need a little refresher.  Practice only takes you so far.  Sometimes you need a different kind of “motivation”. 

                                            

 

Baseball…your potential, our passion. 

 

   

Oh Canada!

I’m not a fan of day games during the week.  I have this thing called a job that gets in the way of being able to watch or listen to a live day game.  And I just really like knowing that, after a mentally exhausting day at work, I can go home and lose myself in an Angels game at night.  But a day game in the EST time zone?  In my world, that comes dangerously close to the crack of dawn.

             

For most of their season, the Angels need to be at their peak at 7:00 PM PST, their typical home game time.  Today, they had to be awake and alert to play their 3rd game in Toronto at 9:30 AM PST.  If any of them had taken the field without their glove (or cup), I certainly would’ve understood.  Yikes.  Much to my relief, they either got plenty of rest or one of these: 

                                      starbucks-IV.jpg coffee image by coffeehound1   

They got right to work and threw 3 runs up on the board in the first inning, just as they’d done the night before.  The Blue Jays were only able to piece together 2 runs out of the 7 hits John Lackey allowed them and the Angels had a 5-2 lead at the end of his 7 innings.  Okay, I’m sure you’re expecting me to let the bullpen have it right about now.

                        

But I won’t.  Darren Oliver has been one of the most reliable relievers the Angels have.  He just had a bad day, so the Jays took advantage and tied the game.  But the difference today was, Oliver’s teammates picked up the slack for him and held onto the game.  Howie Kendrick took the 9th inning as an opportunity to make up for an embarrassing base running error in Tuesday night’s game, when he lost count of the outs.  He executed a perfect bunt to get on base and then scored the winning run while the Jays were otherwise occupied with their double-play.  Nice.

                  Toronto Blue Jays catcher Rod Barajas (R) awaits the ball as Los Angeles Angels Howie Kendrick scores the game winning run during the ninth inning of their American League baseball game in Toronto on Thursday.

Don’t let the picture fool you.  I don’t think Overbay had even thrown the ball from first yet.  So, no extra innings, the Angels took two in Toronto, the Rangers lost another in New York and although I couldn’t watch all of the action until I got home from work, by lunch time today I had a smile on my face and the Angels had a win in the bag.  Now the Angels are on to Detroit while the Rangers have to take it to Boston.  The gap has closed by 1 game.  Onward and upward.

                       

Congratulations to Randy Johnson on his 300th win.  He becomes the 24th pitcher in baseball to record win #300 and only the 6th lefty to do so.  Baseball fans across the country are celebrating this amazing accomplishment.

 

Baseball…taking you to new heights.

 

 

Shutting Out Seattle

Well, they did it to us first.  After Wednesday night’s shut-out of my Angels, I’m sure the Mariners were hoping to take Thursday’s game and split the series, 2-2.  Instead, they were on the receiving end of a shut-out when the Angels brought a foolproof recipe for a win:

                       1 Joe Saunders, itching for a win after a miserable outing in Texas

                       3 Home Runs (If Vlad Guerrero is unavailable, substitute Juan

                          Rivera, Gary Matthews and Howie Kendrick)

                       1 pinch of Scot Shields

                       1 dash of Brian Fuentes

Blend all ingredients well.  Spoon into a diamond-shaped dish and bake at 65 degrees for 2 hours and 46 minutes.  Serve piping hot!  Oh, and stick a fork in the opposing team…they’re DONE!  

 

Mariners pitchers put up a good fight.  They only yielded 5 hits to the Angels but 3 of them cleared the wall (Kendrick’s was caught by an Angels fan in the upper, upper deck) and made all the difference.  With the Angels taking 3 of 4 in Seattle and the Tigers completing their 3 game sweep of the Rangers, the Angels are now only 2 games out of first place.  They’re flying back to Southern California but will take a detour to Chavez Ravine as they meet the Dodgers for a 3 game “Freeway Series”.  

                                  

When the Angels and Dodgers met up last season, they split their 6 games evenly.  I still haven’t forgotten the June 28th game.  It’s certainly hard to forget a loss to the Dodgers especially when the Dodgers didn’t get a single hit but still won the game!  Remember it now?  An error by Jered Weaver put Matt Kemp on first.  An error by Jeff Mathis moved him to third.  Kemp then scored on Blake DeWitt’s sac fly.  It was one of the most bizarre games I’ve ever seen and was only the 5th time in modern baseball history that a game was won by a hitless team.  I would really prefer none of that craziness this time around.

                   

I usually don’t mind a little interleague action.  The Angels take the opportunity to pad the old win column a bit and AL fans get a giggle or two as our pitchers take their turn in the batter’s box.  Even their teammates find it difficult to suppress their laughter when someone like Big John Lackey goes down swinging.  I’ve always thought pitchers should be better hitters or at least should have a pretty easy time drawing a walk.  Wouldn’t you think blackjack dealers would be great blackjack players since they know what’s likely to come out of the shoe?  (More “Lori Logic” as my husband calls it.)  Instead, they slap on a batting helmet and provide some unintentional comedy.

                        

The Angels will have to take this series with the Dodgers very seriously.  While they spend the weekend going up against the best team in all of baseball (at the moment), the Rangers get to play the Astros.  It’ll take the Angels’ A game to keep from losing any ground in the west.  And we can always hope the Rangers are starting to run out of steam.

               

I must mention, the way the earth’s been shaking around here in Southern California coupled with the Yankees winning 9 in a row, has had me wondering if the apocalypse could be close at hand.  But when David Ortiz finally hit a homerun, I decided it’s just coincidence and we’re beginning to return to normalcy.

 

Baseball…mmm, mmm good!

 

 

I’ll Take Angels Baseball for .500

Yep, that’s right.  The Angels’ record is finally back at the .500 mark.  How’d they do it?  They sent Matt Palmer to the mound to face the Kansas City Royals.  The Royals cruised into the Big A on a six game winning streak that the Angels happily snapped for them.  Of course, tonight’s win was a bit ironic.  Usually when we face the Royals they’re dead last in their division and we struggle to put a run together.  At least that wasn’t the case tonight.  Not only was it a great game with Palmer giving up just 2 hits while going 5 & 1/3,  there were a few other noteworthy things that happened.

     jeopardy.jpg picture by lafmyers

Howie Kendrick hit an inside-the-park homerun!  This was the first in Howie’s career and happened when Royals right-fielder, Jose Guillen, couldn’t make the catch at the right-field line.  Little League Lesson #1 – when you hit the ball, never assume it’s going to be caught.  Howie was taking a leisurely stroll to first base, thinking that he’d hit a routine fly to right.  Not the case.  Luckily, he glanced over and saw third base coach, Dino Ebel doing his best impression of one of these:                    

                          

So he kicked it into high gear. “It was mentioned to him,” Scioscia said after the game.  That’s funny.   There will be some debate over whether it was an in-the-park homer or an error and word is the official scoring could be changed.  I suppose it doesn’t help the argument that Bobby Abreu made a nearly identical catch just a few innings later.  Oh well.  Whatever it was, it scored 2 runs.

                

Reliever Darren Oliver reached a milestone tonight when he made his 1000th career strike-out to end the 7th.  He was in fine form after spending 2 weeks on the DL, as were Jose Arredondo and Brian Fuentes.  I’m sure they all appreciated the rest they had the day before, courtesy of Jered Weaver and his complete game.

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And speaking of naps…(clever segue, huh?)…how fantastic has Mike Napoli been as the DH?  He is on fire, hitting .710+ just in the last week.  I know the team needs Big Daddy Vlady back, and it looks like he could be back in less than two weeks, but Napoli has certainly been proving himself to be a worthy replacement in the DH spot.  I’m just saying, if Vlady’s return means Napoli won’t be in the line-up every game and when he is in the line-up, he’s behind the plate, again risking season side-lining injuries, well…let’s just be sure Vlady’s recovery isn’t being rushed at all.  Right now Mike’s my Napolian Dynamite!  Duh.

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That’s what’s so great about the Angels.  They almost seem like a team of utility players who can change positions at a moment’s notice.  That would make Chone Figgins their captain, who I swear has done everything at the Big A except sell Dippin’ Dots.  And I must give big kudos to the AAA pitchers who have stepped up to help fill the shoes of John Lackey, Ervin Santana and Kelvim Escobar.  Granted, it hasn’t been all sunshine and lollipops, but in the last week or so has we’ve seen these young men conquer nerves (and Yankees) to get the job done.  It’s hard to fill someone else’s shoes.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

                   

 

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 Only time will tell.

 

Baseball…accept no substitute.   

 

The Cleat’s On The Other Foot!

When I left work on Friday afternoon, the Angels were down 4 runs to the Yankees in the second game of their four game series.  By the time I pulled into the parking lot at Fry’s to buy a new laptop, they were ahead by two runs after scoring 6 in the 6th.  I shoved the newspaper ad in the computer guy’s face and said, “One of these, please!” and raced back out to the car.  It was a good thing my windows were rolled up because I immediately let loose with a “Wooo hooo!” upon hearing they’d scored 3 more “insurance” runs in the 7th.  I hopped back on the freeway for the 20 minute ride home, feeling good about the laptop and my Angels.  20 minutes later, I sat parked in front of my house, engine still running, in a complete state of shock as the Angels bullpen once again crumbled like a:

          

I didn’t want my neighbors seeing me beat my head against the steering wheel so I grabbed my new laptop and made a mad dash into the house.  By the time I turned on the TV, the Yankees had scored 4 runs and I had a very ominous feeling that the Angels’ insurance runs weren’t going to be enough.  Not even the “Ohmygosh…Mommy’s home!” squawks and kisses of my fids (feathered kids) could console me. 

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Sunny and Sushi…Angels fans since birth.  Or hatch.

And I was right.  New (well, to the Angels anyway) closer, Brian Fuentes, promptly loaded the bases in the 9th and gave up a walk-off 2 run hit to Jorge Posada.  I knew this series with the Yankees was going to be tough but Friday night’s game was an excruciating test of my loyalty.  And my unwavering devotion was rewarded ten-fold on Saturday! 

queen.jpg picture by lafmyers

Kendrick, Morales, Rivera and Wood each had a 2 hit game and helped the Angels score 5 runs on the mighty CC.  Yankees fans saw their bullpen lose steam, something Angels fans have been experiencing all too frequently in the past few weeks.  And even though the Yankees managed to squeeze out 3 more runs in the 9th, it wasn’t enough to pull out a win like they did the night before.  But the most exciting part of the game was undoubtedly Matt Palmer, who in his fifth major league start could not be rattled by the star power at the plate or the sparkle of the new stadium as he retired 14 Yankee bats in a row!  I’m sure Mike Scioscia (it’s really quite easy…SCI-O, SCI-A) couldn’t have been more tickled by Palmer’s performance as he came up to “pinch” pitch for the Angels’ ailing starters.  He was unflappable, giving up only one run and three hits in 6 and 1/3 innings.  Angels fans had a terrific Saturday and now have a new hero…Matt Palmer!

    

 

Baseball…because I’m worth it!